25 March 2010
Recall, that we destroyed our previous dinghy on the way down this fall trying to muscle our boat off a shoal and had to buy a new one? This was an expense we had not planned for (nor were the various other unforeseen expenses we faced and are beginning to understand that this is the norm for cruising), but we liked our new dinghy. So, picking up from where we left the last post, we tied up to a rough rock wall in Boca Raton and head for a walk, then lunch. It's a great afternoon, warm and breezy and life is good.
We get back to our dinghy early afternoon and the tide has fallen a few inches since we came here and there is a slight ledge now under the boat but it is still floating. Judy gets in the dinghy and as we push off, the dinghy rubs along some very rough protrusions in the ledge and I hear the dreaded hissss of a puncture in the hull. We're in trouble! I yell at her that we've got to get back to the boat and quickly. We motor as fast as we can the relatively short distance back to Sea Sharp with one side of the hull quickly deflating. Picture the two of us along with our 8 hp outboard flying along with one side of the boat sagging rapidly. Back on Sea Sharp, we scramble to get the engine off the dinghy so it will not go under water. Normally we prepare for this exercise and have a routine where we move it from the dinghy to its storage place on our stern rail in stages. There's not time and we quickly wrestle the motor onto the boat. They we hoist the now Dali-like sagging dinghy onto the foredeck and inspect the damage (recall Salvador Dali, the great artist who did works featuring clocks and other items hanging over tree limbs). There are three gashes in the hull! Needless to say, that like the dinghy we are deflated.
I bring out the repair kit and do my best to patch these cuts but we can't use the dinghy and I would be hesitant to trust it until we know whether the repairs will take hold. So, this puts off our visit with JP and we now have to figure if we need yet another new dinghy. Ironically, we are only twenty miles or so from West Palm Beach where we purchased this dinghy on the way down so I call the West Marine store where we bought it. They were sympathetic but could not offer us any solution other that taking it to the repair place they use in Stuart.
So, now without a reliable way ashore we figure we might as well head back to Stuart, where we intend to decommission the boat anyway and see about permanent repair or replacement.
Next day, with the soggy dinghy on deck, we head up the ICW. Our destination would normally have been Lake Worth, West Palm Beach but without a way of getting ashore, we decide to head as far as we can with will put us closer to our penultimate destination of Stuart.
We clear something like 20 bridges today, all but one which have to open to let us through. Most are on fixed opening schedules and there are various other boats on the waterway so it's a very mentally challenging day figuring how and when to approach these bridges. We have good luck with some favourable current for the early part and do quite well. We are quite tired as we pull off the ICW into Hobe Sound off Jupiter Island (you'll recognize this latter as the home of Tiger Woods).
I inflate the dinghy on deck and it appears to be holding air.
Next morning, we head out for Stuart where we'll spend a couple of weeks preparing Sea Sharp for summer storage. It's an easy run and they've dredged and remarked the complicated channel into the St.Lucie River where we ran aground on the way down. We take a mooring at Sunset Bay Marina, that great place we stayed in December. Our friends Eric and Ellen from Nova Scotia who had our Jeep when we were gone, have their boat in a slip so were able to lend us their dinghy until we can figure out what to do about ours.
So while we're disappointed about the dinghy, we are pleased to be back in Stuart. We know many boaters here, the Marina folks are great, Peter and Sandi from home live here and there are lots of things to do. Later on this Saturday, the Marina is hosting an appreciation barbeque for patrons so it's a great opportunity to reacquaint old friends and meet new boaters.
First thing on Monday, I take the dinghy by car (we now have our Jeep) to the repair facility. The guy there examines it and tells me that the repairs I did should be fine and would not be very different that what they would have done. He suggests an additional precaution by adding seam glue along the patch, which I do. We inflate it and I put soapy water on the patches; no bubbles! So, look like we're ok with the repairs. Just another adventure.....